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Shops forced to shut by coronavirus had been surviving with online sales, but difficulties ordering titles present fresh threat

Amazon denied Times reports saying it was turning away book deliveries to focus on household and medical essentials amid the coronavirus outbreak, stressing it is still accepting new stocks from publishers.

However, major cutbacks at the UK’s two main book wholesalers have begun to prevent bookshops from acquiring new stock

With several major publishers moving some scheduled releases to later in the year, confusion reigns among readers about which books will be available during the lockdown. Increased demand for postal services has led to delays in delivery, with Waterstones – which closed all its stores on March 23rd – announcing that online orders would face “slight delays”.

Wholesalers Gardners and Bertrams announced they were temporarily suspending all orders, making it more difficult for bookshops, particularly independents, to get fresh stock until restrictions lift.

Late on Thursday, Gardners reopened, allowing bookshops to order single copies of books for customers – but only for titles it has in stock.

Edinburgh’s Portobello Bookshop closed its physical and online shop, despite Gardners’s offer. “Unfortunately, under the new system the postage and admin costs are so high that it’s not going to be affordable for us to bring staff out of furlough without passing those costs on to customers, which isn’t something we’d be comfortable doing,” said bookseller Jack Clark.

Emma Corfield-Walters at Bookish said it had been a “hell of a week” but welcomed the change at Gardners. “[It] is also testament to Gardners’s support to indies at this tough time; they could have just shut up shop but are constantly looking at how to work safely and still help us out when we need it most.”

Source: The Guardian